In the Matter of DSB and DSB

In the Matter of DSB and DSB, 2013 MT 112 (April 30, 2013) (5-0) (McGrath, C.J.)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly concluded that birth father JH’s treatment plans were appropriate, and (2) whether the state presented sufficient evidence to terminate JH’s parental rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) yes.


Facts: The state petitioned for emergency protective services, adjudication as youths in need of care, and temporary legal custody of DSB1 and DSB2, alleging their father, JH, had sexually abused, medically neglected, and physically neglected the children, and exposed them to unreasonable risks. JH stipulated that the children should be adjudicated as youths in need of care. At a July 2010 hearing, the district court held that the children are Indian, and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies.

The Department of Public Health and Human Services prepared treatment plans for JH, which were approved by the court. At the time they were approved, JH was in the Department of Correction’s custody for failing to register as a violent offender.

Procedural Posture & Holding: The state petitioned for permanent legal custody and termination of JH’s parental rights in February 2010. The district court held four hearings, and took testimony from an ICWA expert, a state child protection specialist, the children’s therapist, and JH. On Aug. 2, 2012, the district court issued an order terminating JH’s parental rights to the children. JH appeals, and the Supreme Court affirms.